California Legislators Pass Bill to Ban Private Prisons — Including Immigration Detention Facilities  

According to reporting from the San Francisco Chronicle, the California Legislature has passed a bill that would phase out the private prison industry in the state. Notably, the bill — Assembly Bill 32 (AB32) — will also apply to private immigration detention facilities contracted for by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Originally, AB32 only covered California state prison contracts. However, in June of 2019, it was rewritten by lead sponsor Rob Bonta to include California’s private ICE facilities. 

Assembly Bill 32 Heads to the Governor’s Desk

In order to become law, AB32 still needs the signature of California Governor Gavin Newsom. As of September 19th, 2019, he has given no public indication as to whether or not he will sign the bill, stating simply that legislation will be reviewed “on its own merits.” That being said, Governor Newsom did make a campaign pledge to ban private prisons in California when he ran for office in 2018. 

How the Phase in Process Would Work

Assembly Bill 32 gradually phases out the private prison ban. Under the law, all private prisons would be banned in California starting in 2028. Though, the bill would start taking effect much sooner than that. If signed into law by Governor Newsom, AB 32 would bar the state of California from entering into or renewing any private prison contracts starting on January 1st, 2020. While existing contracts would remain in place for the duration, none of these contracts would be eligible for renewal. 

The Law Sets Up a Potential Fight With the Federal Government

California’s effort to ban private prisons, including private immigration detention centers, sets up a potential fight with the federal government. There are many privately run immigration detention facilities in the state of California. Alarmingly, many of these jails have poor health and safety records. It is possible that the Trump Administration will bring a legal challenge against the inclusion of immigration detention centers in this law. 

Previously, we have discussed how the profit-driven motive of private prison companies leads to bad immigration policy. Indeed, last year, memos exchanged between Trump Administration officials and one of the nation’s largest private prison companies revealed that corporate executives were complaining about California’s sanctuary state laws.   

Driven to bring in additional revenue and make higher profits, private prisons that contract with ICE have a direct financial incentive to push the federal government to detain an ever-increasing number of migrants. At the same time, many of Southern California’s private immigration detention facilities fail to provide safe conditions. The effort to ban the companies from operating within the state is worthy of support.  

Discuss Your Case With Our California Immigration Law Attorney Today

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are committed to providing high quality, fully individualized immigration law guidance to clients throughout Southern California. We will protect your rights. To arrange a completely confidential, no-commitment review of your case, please call our Los Angeles law office today at (213) 262-2000.